GSA Will Stop Recruiting Cloud Security Testers Until the Fall

Auditing firms have until March 25 to apply for the government’s new FedRAMP certification program.

The government's new program for certifying the safety of browser-based software will not be able to recruit additional testers until the fall, federal officials told Nextgov.

Currently, there are 16 government-approved independent testing firms assessing the security of dozens of cloud provider data centers to make sure they are up to standard. These auditors are part of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, which was launched in June to provide agencies one list of preapproved cloudware with all the product certification paperwork completed. That way, interested agencies don’t have to perform redundant security checks, potentially saving as much as $200,000 per certification.

Today, a team of federal security professionals vets the integrity of the auditing firms. In 2011, before FedRAMP was even fully conceived, government officials said they would outsource this work to save money and increase throughput. In February, they began researching private accreditation bodies that could take over the vetting, according to contracting databases.

The planned privatization of the "accreditation function will result in a pause in accepting new applications," Jackeline Stewart, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, the government’s purchasing division, said in an email. The length of the hiatus depends on the time it takes to conduct a fair competition and then shift responsibilities, she added.

"We are targeting for the transition to be complete in the fall," Stewart said.  

GSA publicly announced on Tuesday that it will stop accepting new applications from auditors on March 25 and "will not accept any resubmitted application" from rejected applicants either.

Hiring impartial inspectors is complicated because many security auditors also do paid consulting work for cloud providers. Applicants have to prove they are truly independent from the cloud firms they will be testing.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven Van Roekel in mid-January said at least 78 cloud providers intended to audition for FedRAMP, and more were expected to sign up in the future. To date, two software companies have successfully navigated the program.

On Tuesday evening, the cloud sector, which relies on these auditors to get onto agency's shopping lists, expressed uneasiness about halting recruiting.   

"We have continually encouraged GSA to make sure that the FedRAMP program has enough bandwidth to handle the cloud service providers who want to go through the process," said Mike Hettinger, public sector director for the Software and Information Industry Association, which represents Web services suppliers. "If, by privatizing, that will ensure enough bandwidth to go through the process, I am encouraged.”

“I'm a little concerned about the gap between when GSA stops accepting third-party assessors and the fall when the private sector accreditation organization will be established,” Hettinger continued. “Having a gap probably has the potential to slow down the process." 

Based on conversations he has had with a number of the assessors, all 16 are getting substantial business from aspiring cloudware makers, Hettinger said. How many additional auditor applications GSA will be able to clear before March 25 is unknown.

In Tuesday's announcement, GSA officials stated, "Organizations that cannot meet the cutoff date or are denied accreditation can apply for accreditation to the private sector accreditation body after the transition period." 

Stewart added, "GSA has been actively reaching out and engaging with affected stakeholders to make this transition as smooth as possible."

Some tech industry analysts said GSA's move to privatize accrediting, while commonplace in federal contracting, will not be a big cost-cutter right now. 

"Long term savings should come from competition and the resulting efficiency, but unless the existing government-run accreditation process was inefficient, there is not necessarily any immediate savings," said Daniel Castro, a researcher with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. 

(Image via Bulatnikov/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.